Music Review: ‘Dear Zindagi’

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Director Gauri Shinde’s style of storytelling that is deeply involved in emotions and the finer moments in life is explicit and like none other in the current crop of Bollywood. Post her success with ‘English Vinglish’ (2012), she has taken a rather big leap in casting for her forthcoming project ‘Dear Zindagi’ with superstar Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt sharing the screen space. With a range of teasers rather than a full trailer, Shinde’s style of shots and colour grading represents her signature well.. The story seems different from typical Bollywood and the music should be equally diverse and exciting. With Amit Trivedi in the studio and Kausar Munir holding the pen, Shinde wouldn’t have much to worry about after the success Trivedi had delivered for her on her first film. Going with the teaser feelers out, the music should have the calmness and fresh feeling to it throughout the album.

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Sunidhi Chauhan opens the album with Just Go To Hell Dil. A sad heartbreak song doesn’t seem like the best start to the album but it surely helps set the story and the state of Bhatt’s character in the film. Trivedi has composed the song in a soft rock arrangement with the drums being the leading instrument with violin solos. The melody of the song is not too exciting and inspired from many mediocre songs. The read differentiator are the lyrics by Munir that go from sadness to disappointment to giving a damn about heartache but they are quite mediocre. Chauhan’s vocals are the best part and very well controlled going from whispers to very high notes. One can actually hear the pain of a heartbreak in her voice and the aggression of a protest to get rid of it.

Jasleen Royal’s lead song Love You Zindagi has been already creating waves for this film and rightly so. There is some magic in her voice that is reminiscent to innocence and purity that makes one believe every word of the lyrics she sings. Her delivery style is very unique and modern on this song. Although the title chorus by Trivedi sounds clichéd in its pattern, but overall as a song it has its own identity that is exciting to hear. The music is very calming with a country music vibe that gives it a lot of ambience about it. The sound of fingerpicking guitar puts one right in the middle of a western country barn village setting that makes it sound very fresh. The lyrics add a lot of vibrancy to the music as well and are perfect to the style of music suited to Royal’s voice. Overall the sound is catchy and can be heard non-stop on repeat.

We hear the brilliant Arijit Singh next on Tu Hi Hai. The song starts with cute and innocently romantic “tu hi toh nahi” questions that soon turn into tu hi hai answers which is truly endearing on the lyrics front. The use of references and moments to bring out these feelings is quite well written. The arrangement is uplifting with a soft tonality that is perfect for the style of the song. The instrumentation that creates this style is clichéd but quite innovative at the same time. The use of guitar is quite obvious but mashing that up with mandolin’s and Greek Bouzouki’s gives it a good Mediterranean music touch. Singh’s vocals have a good range to them but his soft romantic touch works really well here. A cute song with a very positive vibe makes this a good song to listen to.

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Taarefon Se is yet another beautiful romantic song. A pure jazz composition with jazz drums, keyboards, acoustic guitar and saxophone… this song is pure musical bliss! Perhaps the best romantic song done by Trivedi and perhaps one of the best songs of the year, this song is simple genius with a gorgeous melody. The harmonies and melodies are so intricate and so well balanced that it leaves one spellbound! As good as the music is, the lyrics and vocals top it to the next level. Clearly one can say this is one of the best vocal performances from Singh ever.. and he gives a stunning performance on almost every song. His control over his tonalities and vocal textures is just stunning to hear. He brings out the jazz so easily and effortless that it is a pleasure to hear every note. Even Munir leaves one captured and deeply engrossed with the simplicity of his lyrics. The words are perfectly rhymed and the flow is simply amazing on how they build up. Every line makes the heart melt. By far one of the best songs ever and a must listen!

Vishal Dadlani delivers Let’s Break Up next. The melody and sound of this song is quite typically Trivedi with a good twist to it. The big trumpets, deep bass guitar throughout and a masti dominated composition is what you hear here that reminds one of many of Trivedi’s previous songs. He changes the bridges here with some good instrumental solos that are well recorded and add to the fun vibes of the song making it fit for clubs as well. The song targets the young college crowd with the most common line used in casual relationships – let’s break up. Dadlani is the best to deliver the attack and fun at the same time in the vocals and he does it well here in his usual style. The lyrics are very easy going and perfect for the target audience of the song. Ironic this song has just come after the breakup song from ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ (2016) which makes it a copy of the theme but I guess both songs have their own space.

Arijit Singh revives Ilaiyaraaja’s original classic Ae Zindagi Gale Laga Le – 1 to fit in this 2016 film. The composition and arrangement is untouched and exactly the same as the original. The use of instrumentation has changed to a more modern take with electric guitars which is quite well restrained with just one major solo to maintain the authenticity of the original classic. The lyrics don’t seem to have been changed either. Singh’s vocals are quite simple with no major twists and turns as quite clearly it is impossible to compare with Suresh Wadkar’s vocal texture and delivery in the original. This song is probably used as a background song during the film and it does a good job of keeping the sovereignty of the original while reminding the new generation of this golden old classic.

Alia Bhatt in 'Dear Zindagi'
Alia Bhatt in ‘Dear Zindagi’

Ae Zindagi Gale Laga Le – 2 is a proper attempt to make this song fit in a more 2016 timeframe. What sounds like a remix, it is far better than what a typical remix would be. The arrangement with a break-beat and drum n bass mixed with some grime added in brings the sound Asian underground nicely to mainstream Bollywood. The take is quite interesting and the sound is nicely developed. Another exciting addition to the song is Alia Bhatt doing the vocals herself. A proper solo from her gives her a good opportunity to shine even though her vocals are quite flat in parts. All-in-all this is a song that you would either love or hate depending on if you like remixes of classics or not.

Alia Bhatt attempts a more upbeat take on the title track Love You Zindagi (Club Mix). The music is quite typical with a synth line and club textured beats killing the real rhythm of the original but bringing it alive for a nightclub setting. The song retains the choruses and the main elements of the original composition which helps retain the ambience of the original. Bhatt’s vocals are not bad at all. She surely had some good vocal talent and we hope to hear a lot more from here in the future. Other than club DJ’s this is not a track that one would naturally fall in love with.

FINAL WORD
Amit Trivedi is a genius! No matter how many times one says it, it isn’t enough. He shows once again with the soundtrack of ‘Dear Zindagi’ that his calibre and musical talent have no boundaries and he can do a brilliant job every time with so many different genres. The album has a really good range going from romance to club to jazz to grime to inspirational to revival of a Bollywood classic. Most music directors would find it difficult to fit that many style in a single album with 8 songs but Trivedi makes it sound natural. The variety of instrumentation is elaborate and each song has a unique personality to it. His collaboration with Kausar Munir brings the best out of both. Lyrics are consistently great throughout the album with some being absolutely brilliant to listen to. Vocal talent is exceptional too with Arijit Singh’s mesmerising performance on 3 songs, hugely talented Jasleen Kaur, Vishal Dadlani, Sunidhi Chauhan and even Alia Bhatt contributing with a great vocal. Taarefon Se, Tu Hi Hai, Love You Zindagi are the best songs to hear. Just Go To Hell and Ae Zindagi Gale Laga Le – 1 are a little disappointing but are still not bad songs. This album is a great way to finish 2016 and will surely stay on the musical playlists for a couple of years ahead.

BizAsiaLive.com Rating – 8.5/10

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